Exposure and Response Prevention
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) impacts 2-3% of the population. That’s 1 in 40 US Adults and 1 in 100 US children. OCD is characterized by intrusive, obsessive thoughts or images which are highly distressing to the individual and by compulsive rituals, which are conducted by the individual to reduce their distress. These rituals can be observable behaviors (like hand washing, or checking behaviors) or unobservable mental rituals (counting or praying).
The obsessive thoughts give rise to negative feelings like anxiety, disgust and fear. The negative emotions increase the urge to participate in ritualistic behaviors. The ritualistic behavior offers TEMPORARY relief from the negative feelings, this relief is not long lasting before the obsessive thought returns and starts the cycle all over again. The below image outlines this cycle.
The recommended treatment for OCD is referred to as Exposure and Response Prevention (ExRP). This intervention can be used in conjunction with medications or alone. It involves exposing the individual to situations which would normally precipitate the need to ritualize or act on compulsive behaviors and then encouraging them not to engage in their rituals/compulsions. Anxiety and distress increase when we do this but then they fall naturally, after a short period of time, allowing the individual to learn that the situation is not harmful or dangerous. We start by creating a hierarchy of distressing situations or scenarios and gradually, working from low intensity to high intensity work through the scenarios in a supportive environment. Treatment sessions are typically twice a week for 90-120 minutes and support for homework is provided via phone calls in between sessions. The duration of treatment is typical 17-20 sessions total (or 8-10 weeks).
If you feel the OCD Clinic at Artemis may benefit you or a loved one call and inquire about an assessment with our dedicated team or sign up here…
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